Sightseeing, dining, shopping – whatever you relish, Shanghai has you more than covered. Read on as we list the best of the best in all three categories…
“You can’t truly say you’ve been to Shanghai until you’ve walked the Bund at dusk, its most famed and romantic hour”
A few days in Shanghai will give you a taste of the city, but to truly capture its essence we recommend staying a week.
GETTING THERE: China Eastern Airlines is one of the major carriers that flies to Shanghai from Australia. Book at: oa.ceair.com
Sightseeing in Shanghai is unlike anywhere else. Few other Asian cities manage to juggle such a cutting-edge, steely-shiny newness with meaty, tangible history and longevity. But within a single day in this Chinese metropolis you can stride centuries…
ORIENTAL PEARL RADIO & TV TOWER
It’s a happy accident that from one of Shanghai’s oldest and most iconic sights you can see its modern-day counterpart. Across the water in space-agey Pudong, the futuristic business district, the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower glows like a duo of robotic cherries skewered for a summer picnic. With its tripod-like base and spire reaching up 468 metres into the sky, it’s an unmistakable, one-of-a-kind symbol of China’s technological progress. Built in 1995, the Pearl Tower is the fifth highest tower in the world. It’s said to represent a set of large and small pearls “dropping onto a jade plate” (that is, the grassy foot at its base), but whether you see pearls or cherries, it’s a must-do both inside and out. You can hop in the doubledecker elevators for a zooming ascent to the lower sphere’s sightseeing hall, from which you can see all the way to the Yangtze River. But this tower is more than some rooms with a view: it also contains a “space city,” full of futuristic science and technology, as well as a hotel, shops and restaurants.
Address: 1 Century Ave, Pudong
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
An all access pass to the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower will cost AUD $66 (approx.).
SHANGHAI WORLD FINANCIAL CENTRE
Fashioned like a giant beer-bottle opener reaching upwards into the clouds, the Shanghai World Financial Centre is practically a city in itself. At its base, there are restaurants, cafes and shops; from shoe boutiques to rainbow-macaron-stuffed bakeries. From its 79th to 93rd floors, the spectacular Park Hyatt Shanghai shimmers, its entire lobby and cocktail bar yawning out to a spectacular cityscape carpeted below. The pinnacle? The 474-metre-high observation deck on the 100th floor. Tucked at the bottle opener’s mouth, it’s the highest deck in the world.
Address: 100 Century Ave, Pudong
Not had enough of tall buildings? The brand new Shanghai Tower, completed at the end of 2015, has changed the face of high-rise life in this Chinese city. Twisting up into the air at burgeoning financial district Lujiazui, at 632 metres tall it is China’s largest building and the second-largest in the entire world. It began to welcome visitors in 2016, and you can shoot 119 floors up in just 55 seconds to the highest observation deck on the planet. It just goes to show that whatever you’ve already seen and done in Shanghai, there’s always something new.
Address: 1 Yincheng Middle Rd, Lujiazui Residential District, Pudong
Find an older side of the city still at Yu Garden, a famed classical green space located in Anren Jie. It was first finished back in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming dynasty, and though its 20,000 square metres have since undergone various restorations, it has lost none of its charm. If you dream of exploring ancient China at its most beautiful, this is the place to come. A pondlike waterway is straddled by a red-washed wood pavilion, complete with up-swinging, curved-tiled roofs. Elsewhere, an epic, towering rockery rises to 14 metres above the garden and provides a charming view.
Ticket prices start from AUD $7 (approx.).
Address: 218 Anren St, Huangpu
In 2016, a brand new Disneyland Resort opened its magical doors to Shanghai, becoming the sixth park in the world and the first in mainland China. It’s absolutely dreamy, boasting the largest Disney castle ever – the pink and blue Enchanted Storybook Castle reaches a Cinderella-worthy 60 metres tall. And the theme park has a unique local flair you won’t find in any other Disneyland; a special new Gardens of Imagination zone features Chinese zodiac symbols, while fans of Pirates of the Caribbean can make their way to the all-new Treasure Cove, the first pirate-themed park. Stay the night on-site at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel or the Toy Story Hotel, and you can be fully immersed in the world of your children’s favourite films.
IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME…
1. Jin Mao Tower
An 88-storey building with dizzying city views
2. Shanghai Museum
Filled to the brim with ancient Chinese art
3. Longhua Temple
The largest temple in Shanghai
4. City God Temple of Shanghai
A folk temple located in the old city
5. Jade Buddha Temple
A Buddhist temple in the heart of the new city
From fluffy steamed dumplings stuffed with juicy minced pork, to flaky, creamy French mille-feuille piled high in perfect pastry towers, there’s no denying that Shanghai is a city for food-lovers…
The elite of Shanghai restaurants wouldn’t look (or taste) out of place in the fickle food scenes of New York, London or Paris. Take slick, chic Hakkasan, the local outpost of the internationally acclaimed Cantonese restaurant. Its Shanghai location is perched by the banks of the Huangpu River in Pudong. You can drain lycheeinfused cocktails in the Ling Ling lounge, overlooking that picture-worthy view, then retire to the dark-and-sultry lattice-woodout framed dining room to devour the finest in modern Chinese cuisine. Between the jasmine tea-smoked wagyu tenderloin or the cod with champagne and Chinese honey, you’ll wish you had a second stomach.
Address: Bund 18, 5/F 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu Shanghai
Meanwhile, in stark but sumptuous comparison to Hakkasan’s ultra-modern interiors, at Fu 1088 you’ll feel transported back to the days of Shanghai colonial glam. Set in a 1920s Spanish-inspired mansion in Jing’an, every one of the starburst-tiled and dark-wood-trimmed rooms is private, so whether you’re a romancing couple or a carousing group of 20, you’ll feel as though you’ve got the place to yourself. Which is all the better for messily downing top versions of traditional dishes such as a sticky, sweet red-braised pork belly or more modern twists such as pork ribs in cocoa sauce.
Address: 375 Zhenning Rd, Changning
You won’t find even a whiff of the ‘traditional’ at Ultraviolet, an uber-forwardthinking restaurant by French chef Paul Pairet. A dinner here is just as much about getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience as it is about chowing down. Consisting of a single table of just 10 seats, you’ll work your way through 20 wacky courses in a dining room wrapped in screens and speakers. With each gourmet course comes a new atmosphere. One moment you might be dining with Shanghai’s city skyline wrapped around you, the sounds of the city below; the next you’re in a tranquil forest. It’s so enthralling you’d almost not even care what was on your plate – if it wasn’t all so delicious.
DID YOU KNOW? Ultraviolet is the first restaurant of its kind, trying to combine food with multisensory technology.
MR & MRS BUND
Just as Shanghai manages to straddle the realms of old-school glam and new-world style, so does Mr & Mrs Bund. Named for its location on the banks of the chiselled, historic Bund, it’s one part Louis XVI elegance, one part Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, with a slice of modern chic. And its food, also by French chef Paul Pairet, sparkles with a distinct French style, proving this city doesn’t just do great high-end Chinese, but also global cuisine. Choose from dozens of scrummy Gallic dishes including riffs on traditional sole meunière and tarte tatin. There are 32 wines by the glass – and when you’ve got that intoxicating Bund view to drink up as well, it all tastes even better. Address: Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Shanghai
WHAT TO EAT? There’s plenty of choice at Mr & Mrs Bund, with 230 items on the menu, mainly French inspired.
SHANGHAI HAIDILAO HOT POT
The gourmet restaurants in Shanghai may be world-class, but the good eats in this city aren’t reserved exclusively for the blowout meals. Find authentic Shanghainese and other Chinese cuisines at their best in the city’s casual hotspots. Sizzling Sichuan hot pot – a spicy, savoury broth brimming with marbled red beef slices, crunchy fresh vegetables or homemade tofu – is the main event at Shanghai Haidilao Hot Pot, which has multiple locations throughout the city with funky, moody red and black interiors.
JIA JIA TANG BAO
Try the best-ever versions of xiao long bao, the slurpy, unctuous Shanghai steamed soup dumplings, in strippedback Jia Jia Tang Bao. The interior might look just basic white-washed, but these juicy, delicately wrapped parcels draw in hungry masses from far and wide, so it’s perpetually busy. And as the buns can run out before day’s end, get there early.
Address: 90 Huanghe Rd, Huangpu
The sour-spicy food of Hunan is some of China’s finest. It features the likes of suan dou jiao (beans with hot peppers) and spare ribs. The place to try it, which strikes the perfect balance between casual and cool, is ShangHai DiShuiDong. Its laid-back, chequered-tablecloth decor feels a bit like your Chinese grandmother’s house, and is just the perfect place to nibble through plates of spicy “BangBang” chicken, doujiao yutou (fish head steamed with red chilli) and ziran paigu (cumin ribs).
Address: 2/F, 56 Maoming Nan Lu, Huangpu
FIVE DISHES TO TRY…
1. Hakkasan: Crispy duck with Superior caviar
2. FU 1088: Fu’s drunken chicken
3. Mr & Mrs Bund: Escargot garlic parsley
4. Shanghai Haidilao Hot Pot: Sizzling Sichuan hot pot
5. Jia Jia Tang Bo: Traditional xiao long bao
Lusting after a designer handbag? Or a delicate, embroidered silk scarf? How about handmade leather shoes? Whatever it is you’re in the market for, chances are you’ll be able to buy it in Shanghai…
“Nanjing Road is like a pulsating vein of neon life cutting through the city”
Whether or not you’re a pro shopper, a visit to Nanjing Road is a Shanghai essential. Like a pulsating vein of neon life cutting through the city, this is Shanghai’s busiest street – and at five kilometres of pedestrianised shopping bliss, perhaps its most enthralling too. Stroll the full breadth from Nanjing Road East to Nanjing Road West and you’ll get a potted history of Shanghai shopping: in the East, where the road intersects with the iconic Bund, you’ll find some of the city’s oldest and grandest department stores and shops. Stop off at Laojiefu, known as the place for wool and silk, and early 19th-century pharmacy Cai Tong De, where you can stock up on traditional Chinese medicinal herbs such as ginseng or white fungus. Pop into historic Lao Da Fang to buy fresh 3D-lattice-like pork moon cakes made to an ancient recipe, or historic The Old Phoenixes, where in the original shop, dating to 1848, you can drape yourself in gold and silver jewellery. Whichever end of Nanjing Road at which you shop, be sure to return again at night, when Shanghai’s main spending drag is aglow in neon hues and golden spotlights.
Address: Nanjing Rd, Pedestrian St, Huangpu
MORE LOCAL FAVOURITES…
1. Westgate Mall： Home to a spa and luxury brands
2. Plaza 66： You’ll find Bulgari, Fendi and Chanel here
3. New World City Mall： Covers nearly 20 million square metres
4. Parkson Shopping Centre： Erected in the 90s, a go-to for Shanghainese
5. Grand Gateway： You’ll snatch a bargain, or two, here